Kazmir, A's welcome Mariners to Oakland

( - Scott Kazmir is a big reason why the Oakland Athletics have the best earned run average in the American League and one of the top rotations in baseball.

Kazmir will try to keep that reputation going and stay unbeaten when he leads the Athletics into Monday's opener of a four-game series against the AL West- rival Seattle Mariners at Coliseum.

The left-hander is in his first season with Oakland and has pitched to a 4-0 mark in six chances to go along with a 2.11 ERA. Kazmir earned the win in last Tuesday's 9-3 victory at Texas and allowed a season high-tying three runs and seven hits in five innings. The A's have scored 19 runs in Kazmir's last two starts and at least three in all six.

Oakland leads the AL with a 3.00 ERA, while Kazmir, Sonny Gray and Jesse Chavez have a combined 10-1 record in 19 starts. Kazmir, who has a 35-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 38 1/3 innings, has made 12 career starts against the Mariners, going 4-3 with a 3.12 ERA in that time.

Gray took the mound in Sunday's 3-2 win in 10 innings at Boston and helped salvage the three-game set at Fenway Park. Gray did not record a decision and limited the Red Sox to two runs in six innings. Yoenis Cespedes drove in Jed Lowrie with a single in the top of the 10 and made a winner out of Oakland reliever Jim Johnson. Johnson threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings.

"Nobody ever wants to get swept by a team," said Oakland infielder Josh Donaldson. "They got a great ball club over there, and for us to continue to fight the way that we did throughout the series, I think that shows the kind of guys we have here."

Cespedes finished 2-for-5 with two RBI and Brandon Moss also collected two hits with an RBI for the A's, who went 6-4 on their road trip.

The Athletics will play their next 10 games by the bay versus Seattle, Washington and Chicago (White Sox).

Seattle will resume a nine-game road trip Monday and took two out of three from the Houston Astros over the weekend. In Sunday's 8-7 win in the series finale, Brandon Maurer survived for the win and allowed four runs in five innings. Danny Farquhar picked up his first save with two innings of relief.

"I definitely just stuck with (John) Buck," said Maurer. "Whatever he was going with I was throwing. I have confidence in him. He's done this a long time."

Buck had three hits and two runs scored, Robinson Cano finished with two hits and two RBI and both Michael Saunders and Corey Hart finished with two hits and an RBI for the Mariners, who are 4-1 on the trip and have won seven of the last nine overall. Cano has started all 29 games this season and is batting .347 with eight runs, 10 RBI and 17 hits in his last 12 games.

Taking the ball for the Mariners Monday will be Chris Young. Young won for the first time since 2012 in last Tuesday's 6-3 win at Yankee Stadium, where he allowed two runs -- one earned -- and three hits in 5 2/3 innings. The 6- foot-10 right-hander is 1-0 in five games (4 starts) with a 3.04 ERA.

Young, who missed all of last season due to injury, has faced the A's six times (5 starts) in his career and is 2-1 with a 2.43 ERA over that span.

Seattle and Oakland will close this series with a day-night doubleheader on Wednesday. Oakland is 4-2 against the Mariners this season.